Monday Memo: news & views about working at UC
For the Week of July 29, 2013

The dean of Berkeley’s College of Engineering has complained publicly that UC is not producing enough engineering graduates because the administration is not “nimble enough” to set budget priorities, reports a five-minute radio news story by KQED’s California Report.

MBAs at UCLA have won a tuition hike reprieve, reports Businessweek. UCLA’s Anderson School of Management will not seek a $3,800 increase this year for its full-time MBA program in order to attempt to become “self-supporting” by forgoing state aid and charging California residents a whopping $48,000 per year instead.

Administrative professionals attend a 'Know your rights' training at UCLA
Administrative professionals attend a 'Know your rights' training at UCLA

Last week, in response to court decisions in 2006 and 2007, the regents changed UC’s faculty code of conduct to “extend the freedom of UC faculty and staff to freely critique [university] policies … without fear of administrative discipline” reports the Daily Californian.

UCLA patient care techs represented by AFSCME occupied a busy intersection near the campus on Wilshire Boulevard in response to UC’s announcement that it was breaking off bargaining and imposing its last offer. UC claimed it had offered wage increases and “responsible pension reform,” although AFSCME president Kathryn Lybarger described UC’s action as an “assault … on the collective bargaining process and the frontline workers at the backbone of the UC system,” as well as the students, patients and taxpayers UC serves. Since there is no agreement on a contract, AFSCME is free to continue actions to force UC to agree to a fair contract.

As the US Senate struck a deal on student loan interest rates last week, President Obama promised to “lay out an aggressive strategy to shake up the system, tackle rising costs, and improve value for middle-class students and their families” according to Inside Higher Ed. "Families and taxpayers can’t just keep paying more and more and more into an undisciplined system where costs just keep on going up and up and up,” Obama said.

Pennsylvania State University has begun “instituting a $75 monthly surcharge for smokers, and an additional $100 surcharge for coverage for spouses and domestic partners eligible for insurance through their own jobs,” reports Inside Higher Ed. One professor, who objects to the policy, said that “what we’re talking about here is reducing someone’s compensation because they smoke, and that’s not a whole lot different than telling someone we’re not going to hire you because we don’t like the way you live your life.” Another professor noted that such policies are a dangerous “slippery slope” that could penalize employees for common health issues. Others have written about how so-called “wellness” programs can quickly turn from being carrots to being sticks.

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